Open your mind and just let the music do the talking. That’s how I approached this album of covers from the Skids but it had to meet certain criteria before being considered for inclusion on this album and to be fair, they only bloody well pulled it off!
Veteran punk rock outfit Skids have returned with a powerful new studio album that pays tribute to the band’s hometown venue, the historic Kinema Ballroom in Dunfermline, Scotland. Both a live venue as well as a traditional dance club, the Kinema became a musical and cultural epicenter for the youth in Scotland’s Fife province, especially during the late ‘70s, early ‘80s punk rock movement. It would also become the home venue for Skids who played numerous shows at the Kinema as both a support act for such legendary bands as The Clash as well as the headliners for multiple sold-out events.
Now, Skids take a walk down memory lane, performing songs by the bands who influenced them in those early years. ‘Songs From A Haunted Ballroom’ includes versions of tracks by The Clash, The Adverts, Ultravox, Sex Pistols, and Magazine PLUS new versions of their own early hits “Into The Valley” and “The Saints Are Coming!” so laying themselves open by covering some iconic punk tunes. Let battle commence.
The first single from the album, a supercharged version of Ultravox’s ‘Young Savage’ is an eyebrow-raising moment because it’s both vibrant and has boundless energy. Then it’s one of those peek through your fingers moments as they take on ‘Complete Control’ and again I breathe a sigh of relief because they manage to stay on the right side of the cover version style and don’t do it cabaret style. Capturing a good sound on those guitar crunches that was Jones and Strummers style and Jobson does a convincing job on the vocals. Purists will no doubt be all over this complaining about one thing or another but I think they do a sterling job and pay tribute rather well.
As I relax a bit more it makes sense they do ‘Gary Gilmore’s Eyes’ it’s more Skids style and again it’s really well done. They even manage an energetic take on Rockpiles ‘Heart Of The City’ so its not quite there but to even take on such a top tune deserves some kudos.
What this record does do is send your mind back to what seems like better times when music was pouring out of every nook and cranny of the UK and everyone seemed to be indulging in pop culture in one way or another. I guess they were simpler times with fewer distractions for young people’s time and energy. I just hope Jobson will wear the Glove when they play ‘Rock On’ Live. Cool song and a cool respectful take. One of the best versions here is ‘violence’ (never have too much cowbell), not enough bands sound like Mott The Hoople anymore.
Some of the best tunes here are indeed the lesser-known covers or ones you weren’t expecting ’35mm Dreams’ springs to mind and to be fair the guitar sound captured on ‘Submission’ is most worthy then laying it side by side with ‘New York Groove’ is a great idea and two very different genres collide.
It’s hard to fuck up a cover of Iggys ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’ such is the majesty of the track and Skids manage to avoid any embarrassment but making it a CD-only track is a little puzzling considering the vinyl revival going on.I guess it seems only fair that the band includes two of their most famous tunes as part of this look back at what made the band sound like they did and ‘Saints Are Coming’ is still a fantastic song as is ‘Into The Valley’ and fond memories of school discos come flooding back. This only leaves the final track which again is a CD-only affair with Vinyl lovers. ‘Christmas In Fyfe’ is their very Scottish affair and maybe one vinyl lovers won’t mind being omitted but don’t let that distract you from what is a really good album. On the back of the acoustic record which again I really enjoyed this will also nestle in nicely in my collection – Check it out and remember your own memories of when new bands and sounds were hitting your ears on a daily basis. Ah, the memories thanks skids this was a real tonic!
Pre-order the CD & vinyl: Here
Pre-order/pre-save the digital: https://orcd.co/skids_songs_from_a_haunted_ballroom
Author: Dom Daley